West Bend Country Club
7th Hole / Par-4 / 361 Yards
Architect: William Langford and Theodore Moreau (1930), back nine added
by Davil Gil (1960) and then updated by Kye Goalby (2008)
West Bend, Wisconsin, USA
by Matt Ward
Great holes, with few exceptions, are found on land sites that bring to life the innate features that capture a golfer’s interest time after time.
Located within a very short drive from Whistling Straits which hosted the ’21 Ryder Cup matches, West Bend Country Club started as a 9-hole layout and was the handiwork of the talented duo of William Langford and Theodore Moreau.
There are a number of engaging holes at West Bend but the one that truly provides a lasting memory is the par-4 7th.
Creating a short two-shot hole is the ultimate challenge. Being able to sustain the interest for both low and high handicap players is no small feat and Langford and Moreau have brilliantly done so with this gem of a hole.
The hole commences from an elevated teeing area which descends into a fairway that turns left. The fairway is wonderfully contoured — like a stormy sea — and this only adds to the excitement and overall challenge.
Amazingly, the hole has no bunkers with none really needed. Yet the shotmaking dexterity that’s needed is at a high premium.
The green is high above the fairway — approximately 25 feet from the middle of the fairway –perched on top of a knob that seems to be floating in space.
The key with the approach is being totally sure about the distance needed — the green is ample at 4,853 square feet but there are sharp descending edges quick to repel any approach not exact in its execution. In sum – the effective landing area for any approach is rather exacting and not tolerant of anything played haphazardly.
Missing to any side can inflict a heavy toll — on one’s ego and most notably one’s scorecard.
When reaching the green special care has to be front and center. Green speeds at West Bend can be extremely fast and putting off the green is very possible for those with the slightest twitch in their hands.
The majesty of the hole is its total elasticity in dealing with all levels of play. Strong players can attempt to go at the green but the payoff can prove elusive as the shot must marry sufficient length with archer-like accuracy. The wiser course of action is securing a flat area for the approach and then selecting the proper club for the task.
The 7th at West Bend showcases timeless classic architecture of the highest order.
In a word — magnificent.